The following article is Originally Published by Sufiah Yusof on her website
My name is Sufiah Yusof.
I blog to share my experiences of serious media abuse, stalking, and harassment. This site is specifically to give me an independent voice on my experiences, past and current.
I attracted a lot of media attention due to gaining a place early at Oxford.
Since I was 12, newspapers (including ones notorious for racism, abuse, bullying, and harassment – the Daily Mail especially and other news organisations including the BBC) have abused and bullied me as much as possible.
This wasn’t “a few articles with slightly negative opinions about a well-known public figure who had chosen to be in the public eye”.
My “so-called genius life story” was based on the fact that at 12, senior editors who wanted to “make titillating news” realised my parents were severely mentally ill and vulnerable.
This meant the media could have total access to ME – and as a female I could be “targeted for humiliation and profit for my whole life”.
This wasn’t “being shy and self-conscious over justifiable attention” or “struggling with attending university early and standing out”
But a tsunami of spiteful, dishonest, and abusive articles and pieces planned and set up by print journalists and producers.
The more they learned my parents had no boundaries and they could bully me with no comeback, the worse the media behaved.
It was clear they had numerous planned strategies on how to “continue to target me” for profit.
For example, the Daily Mail had a policy of collecting photographs of me (which they would then print regularly with absolutely no story attached). They then would also print readers letters and comments attacking me.
At the age of 15, I attempted to detach from the horrendous abusive behaviour of the media. They realised they were “losing control of someone they had marked early on as a cash source”.
They couldn’t just “demand I be photographed and accessed with as many weird details put in about me to get readers to enjoy the nasty story”.
They got even angrier.
A clear goal was then set to “punish me”, to obtain complete domination and control.
If I wouldn’t consent to giving them interviews, I would be broken.
(To be clear what the media means by “interviews”:
We’re not talking “helpfully promoting women in STEM” interviews
But demands as a young woman (and even now) I agreed to their horrifying, disgusting, ludicrous, appalling demands that I “shared with millions of viewers and readers private details about my abusive family and violence towards me and gave spiteful gossipy remarks about everything I knew about Oxford University and everyone I knew there” for “public titillation” and “clickbait” and “reads”.
Further, to manipulate and present me as if I “consented” to do this and “was enjoying sharing these details”).
Obviously given my parents behaviour and issues I just wanted to privately detach and begin healing.
And having left home, living in a different city, obviously that was an option – but the media were not going to accept that.
Sadly, my parents mental issues meant they were simply not capable of living dignified private lives at any level. Neither had worked after dropping out of postgrad degrees, and would have needed significant ongoing psychological support to approach a decent mainstream life.
(They were living off my student scholarships and student loans taken out in my name when I left home).
However, the media regularly printed my parents were “working as distinguished scientists‘.
Looking back, this wasn’t a “journalists typing error” but a very, very malicious and calculated move.
The media wanted to create the impression I was a ‘Spoilt rich kid who had her way paid to Oxford, and who just fancied working in average jobs for a joke and to be difficult as they wanted to rebel against religion and studying‘.
Journalists would pretend to “befriend” my parents, who were clearly severely mentally vulnerable and isolated – rather than encouraging them to live with dignity and privacy they would encourage them to humiliate themselves and provide as “many details of me as possible” and “write up the articles hinting I was just “rebelling against” religious or cultural values“.
Journalists wanted anyone around me to see me as “a vulnerable and dramatic ex-Muslim who was on the run“, so I would be seen as “bringing too much trouble” for anyone normal to associate with, and creepy controlling cranks and predators would be drawn to me.
Or the kind of hideous individuals who wanted to latch onto a vulnerable young woman and “consume trauma” like it was entertainment.
The media was furious I had escaped from them and was trying to move on from them and the crazy undignified way my parents were allowing the media 100% access to me .
The media wanted me punished – they wanted me tracked down and “handed in” so they could profit from me.
The aim of the media is and was to isolate me from anyone who might support me against their bullying.
My parents gave them complete access to me and so if I didn’t talk to the media, they’d try to “get to me through my parents“.
After I left my parents, the media couldn’t accept they’d “lost their control and easy source of stories and profit“.
The media made sure I knew they were following me at every opportunity they could.
They wanted me to “know I was being watched” and they had the power to stalk and invade every social space I was in.
They would write about me “as if I was contacting them or putting my life details on Facebook” and they were just “reporting on what was out there“.
What actually was happening was they were assigning journalists to go through every “possible contact” I had to pump them for information so they could say “we’re doing a story, either you talk to us or we run the story anyway“.
They wanted me to be paranoid that every “friend of a friend” was spying on me or being urged to give my details.
Being approached by a flatmate or a fellow student saying “someone’s been asking about you” was a common occurrence.
They wanted to “force” me to turn my life into a horrendous “real time reality show“.
(they weren’t interested in writing about science, or anything kind or respectful, or improving education for women in developing countries).
The media wanted “Young woman being controlled and set up and traumatised and humiliated in public for clicks and reads“.
They wanted me being goaded and manipulated into ‘publicly talking about graphic details of child abuse and “denouncing my parents” to millions of viewers like it was “entertainment””.
The goal of the media was complete control and destroying me mentally and emotionally for sensationalism and profit.
They wanted to force me to participate in stories and programmes where I was (allegedly) “making comments about abuse linked to Oxford University as it made for good clickbait”.
And then following up to ‘give a fair story‘ by interviewing my severely mentally ill parents (who would ‘be privately encouraged by the journalists to sue me and call me a liar‘).
Or journalists would try to “drag” Oxford University into the situation and claim I was speaking against them and ask them to “comment in reply”.
(I am still on my lifelong healing journey – I will always have issues dealing with the sheer viciousness, evil, calculation, and horror of what the media was trying to do to me in their campaign of control and abuse)
The media wanted to set up a situation where the public could discuss and ‘vote‘ and ‘have their say‘ on whether I had been abused or not.
And I would be completely mentally broken and traumatised and not able to move forward, as I was turned from a fairly private, sensitive person into: ‘someone who didn’t have anything in their life apart from appearing on talk-shows and giving overdramatic interviews, where I was talking about past personal issues and private pain and stirring up controversy for a living‘.
The ‘next episode of the story’ for the Press would be ‘faux-concern-troll‘ articles how ‘sad they were for me‘.
(As if they were ‘impartial compassionate observers rather than spiteful people who had started a calculated campaign to destroy me because I wouldn’t give them the “access” to my private life that they felt entitled to‘).
My life story was never mathematics, or Oxford, or religion, or nationality, or education.
It was never “me rebelliously choosing to speak against my parents in public“.
It was the spiteful controlling bullies of the media wanting to manipulate a very painful, traumatic situation to “make news“.
The scale and determination of the media (and I don’t just say the “tabloid gutter press here’ – the BBC, the “broadsheets” like the Times and the Guardian were all collaborating to do this) to completely traumatise me, break me mentally, and destroy my life was completely off-the-scale.
Stalking is described by one charity as ‘death in slow motion‘ and that was what the media wanted to do – to make me feel there was so much ‘pressure‘ for someone to ‘get the story‘ which I ‘HAD to tell‘ that if I didn’t give in and ‘just give them their sensationalism‘ they’d harass me till I did.
A frequent message from manipulative deceitful journalists is and was:
‘If you just agree to do this one interview or piece, and ‘talk to us’, other outlets won’t harass you. It will be the last word and you’ve had your say and that’s it, no more press harassment‘
(and of course, what they meant was as soon as they had contact they’d be passing my details to others to “make a feeding frenzy” with others taking up the story and a global mob harassing me).
The controlling media wanted their “story” which would be “poor broken traumatised woman linked to Oxford University“.
If I managed to escape them and build a dignified private life away from them, they wouldn’t “get this story”.
So they stalked me from the age of 15, so they could “make the prediction come true“.
One goal was to “socially isolate” me by running calculated stories trying to “warn normal people off me”.
It’s not about “public reputation” – I was never a “public figure”.
But the media wanted to generate interest in me, to attract predators and controlling odd people with no interest in my wellbeing to follow me around.
Any connection with normal supportive people living dignified private lives would get me free of the media.
If my mental health was destroyed and I had no contact with anyone “normal” as the media had frightened them off (or couldn’t trust anyone as journalists would be offering them cash and connections to give them my details) I could be abused by the media for profit for life.
(for example – I’m regularly contacted by producers clearly desperate for me to advance their careers by exploiting me and forcing me to “tell my story”.
By which they mean “setting me up in the most horrendous way possible”).
I’d feel I’d “have to” regularly traumatise myself by giving my personal details to be written up in the most titillating, humiliating way possible.
I ruined media plans by trying to get away from this abuse.
As they are now doing with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as soon as the Press (from the BBC to the tabloids) lost control, they collaborated to destroy me.
They threw resources into stalking me more.
From the age of 15, now and in the future, I was and will be a target for punishment for them.
My experience in my 20’s – every few months, a spiteful journalist following me around, clearly researching as many of my vulnerabilities as possible.
I’d get messages from people I vaguely knew saying the Mail or other journalists had found them, and been trying to strike up a conversation to “get information about me”.
The journalists weren’t working in isolation – they were clearly passing notes with each other, determined to force me to live a paranoid and anxious life on the fringes of society.
Threatening me by giving my details to my violent father, forcing me to live in fear.
They would attempt to “get into” any social situation I was in and pass information on about me with horrific consequences.
I went to see counsellors about my “depression” – but I wasn’t “depressed”, I was terrified of the journalists and their evil motivations.
For example, from their regular stalking of me they learned I was to be separated from my ex-husband.
The first move of the Mail was to contact my violent mentally ill father to “give him the news so he would know I was alone and could try to track down where I was living”.
It shames me to think of the trauma I lived under, to not be able to share the horror of media abuse with anyone.
And to have this hideous, repulsive, gossipy “global audience” of people “avidly following my life details” with no concern for how they had been obtained.
The media would gleefully report on me “as if” I was independently doing all this crazy stuff (getting into relationships too young, trying to get money through any means necessary).
They’d cheerily run stories on how I was a “wild child” “rebelling against everything and everyone” and making irrational decisions and “speaking out against everyone”.
It was THEIR planning, hatred, and spite that was damaging me and forcing me into these situations.
And at the time (and even now – even politicians and senior Royals are terrified of them) there is very little protection from their calculated, appalling behaviour.
The media co-ordinated and planned a campaign of harassment “behind the scenes”.
This meant if I just lived “like a normal working person in a flatshare” they would obtain my records, put the details on their systems, pass them on to other journalists to make a “feeding frenzy”.
Normal women in their early twenties are dating and “finding themselves” – I was looking for escape from the horror of media harassment through moving in with guys early.
They would give me a few months respite to try to move forward in life, then simply doorstep me, or offer anyone I lived with or worked with money to “report on me”. Then write articles about “what a shame it was I couldn’t settle down”.
The media wanted to punish me as seriously and as viciously as possible for choosing to escape their domination and control at 15.
They would publish articles and programmes with my details (along with outlandish claims about me, highlighting any vulnerability – encouraging as many abusers and predators to target me) and then go “well the only way to get round us stalking and harassing you is to talk to us”.
They would regularly run articles with my (clearly seriously mentally ill) parents to “keep my name public” so anyone around me could identify me if I was trying to live in privacy.
They made sure to print extra details and write articles to “hint I was an ungrateful privileged child who needed to be tracked down and returned to my poor hardworking mother”. This was designed so they could “pass the job of stalking me” onto others.
(with the media and harassing young women, you have to “follow the money” – part of stalking me, was that both my parents and vicious lazy journalists refused to have decent mainstream jobs apart from profiting off me and living off me).
To “punish me” for not giving in and just letting them have interviews when they wanted, the Times and the Mail would just get the details, give them to other journalists or my abusive father.
I still live like this.
Even now, it seems clear journalists like Ben Ellery of the Times have access to a massive folder with my personal details.
Not just “one journalist with a few casual notes”, but information gained through stalking me for years, through whatever unethical and illegal means necessary.
Something accessible to producers and every newspaper so they can blackmail and stalk me when they want to.
They have access to every contact, details of any vulnerability, I have, so they can “pounce” when they want to.
The goal of journalists like Ben Ellery is to use lies and blackmail to force me to talk to them, to “get access” and “start a feeding frenzy”.
Then people like Ben Ellery will be collaborating with other journalists and producers to “force me to capitulate and agree to provide humiliating details of my life for small sums of money so they could get more views and reads”.
Just like I was an animal in a circus.
The media bullies and harasses people for profit, with no mercy or accountability, and this had and will continue to have a horrendous impact on my life and health.
If not for this blog, and small changes in the stalking and harassment laws I have no doubt I would be living an entirely degraded life now, forced to sell stories about myself for a living like a freak.
Or even worse (and I still live with this fear) I noted how the media were frequently trying to publish as many details of my ethnicity and my parents religious background as possible, and write stories claiming I was “setting myself up as a defiant spokesperson against certain values”.
They wanted to “set me up” as a target for any hate mobs.
The motivation was clear – to make out like I was “publicly denouncing or speaking out against certain religious or cultural values” to attract any fanatics to me who would physically harm me.
(it is comforting that contrary to the spiteful and vicious values and motivations of the media and those who work in it, of course religious people are just getting on with their own lives and not trying to stalk random women they don’t know).
Ben Ellery and his colleagues would be regularly contacting me saying “we need to make some clicks and reads – you MUST agree to take part in an interview and say you wanted to give it or we’ll publish it anyway”.
The main aim of this site is to keep a record to protect myself against further harassment and share information and experiences, and compare notes with others harassed by the media.
Please note – I am not a celebrity. The media built me up into this “public figure” with lots of “grand claims” but it was all their construction.
Also, I AM NOT MALAYSIAN.
I have never lived or worked in your country, I have never spoken Malaysian or wanted to or wanted residency.
The Malaysian Press “encouraged this lie/dishonesty/fantasy” – to stop Malaysians talking about internal problems.
I have never had ANY practical connection with Malaysia and do not want one.
The abusive British media printed I was “Malaysian Muslim” to get more people harassing me as they know Malaysians are very stupid and gullible and would just “follow people around“.
Stalking and harassing people online seems to be the only ability of Malaysians – no wonder your country has so many problems!
Malaysians – spending a lot of time following a woman with NO connection to your country rather than “work” or “live privately” is just creepy and strange.
You look like crazy mentally backwards imbeciles.
Not all people who live in Europe are rich and want to “help you”, and the abusive behaviour of the Malaysian Press and stupid online Malaysians have just “caused me problems” so I would now help ANYONE rather than help a Malaysian person.
I now have a policy where I will not reply to or communicate with Malaysians and will block as much as possible as you seem to “live online harassing me” and I don’t want to “encourage you” – I’ve been patient and quiet but Malaysian faces appear EVERYWHERE I am online and just cause problems.
This isn’t discrimination – me saying nothing and just living privately means “Malaysians behave worse and worse with their online fantasies” – there is something seriously mentally wrong with Malaysians as a people and I want to be clear.
I’m glad to hear from others with experience of media harassment or anything connected to that, but I don’t want to communicate or get messages from random people or “netizens”.
I don’t read these e-mails and find them quite unpleasant to receive. Initially, when I was blogging I was trying to be polite and get readers.
But now I can see that most of these “fans” or people just “following my story” are part of the media harassment problem.
A lot of horrible personal details of my life and childhood were “out there without any consent from me” and no respect for my privacy.
Manipulative journalists would try to traumatise me by publishing as many of my private details as possible and getting everyone reading to “discuss my emotional state”.
The journalists wanted to bully me and destroy my mental health by getting complete strangers to have access as many “details of any abuse or pain” I had gone through and then regularly “bring the issues up” to traumatise me and cause me distress by being “forced to relive them”.
The journalists would claim I “wanted to be famous” or “share my life” and “have a public audience of fans” but I didn’t and don’t!
It was their way of setting me up to harass me and causing me problems.
The journalists wanted all their millions of “readers and viewers” to treat me like I was something on a freakshow with no regard for my privacy.
Like my life was some sort of “reality show” and “updates” would be given to my “audience” when I could be bullied into giving them.
It’s very distressing to me and offensive and rude to contact me (a complete stranger) and go “I’m your friend! Can we talk about something I read about on the internet about you?”.
It just makes you sound creepy and weird and controlling.
I do have to continue blogging (unfortunately – it’s time consuming and I don’t get paid for this) due to media abuse.
It’s my only way of standing against their disgusting illegal behaviour.
But like many women using the internet now, it’s tough and stressful using social media regularly because of random people contacting me or demanding I “update” them or help them with their problems (I have enough of my own!).
Or contribute my “genius ideas” to their businesses when I have never promoted myself as some high-flying genius or anything similar – that was all the fantasy of the media to get people “interested in the story”?
When I first started blogging I thought I should try to build an audience.
but I think most women using the internet (for any reason!) have had to take breaks or not blog or Twitter regularly due to lots of crazy oddballs (they’re called “Reply Guys” on Twitter) not engaging or listening to anything they have written but still obsessing over them!
This is the horror of media harassment – it “set me up” with this horrendous “audience” who just wanted to stalk me and “access the next update on my life” however unethically it was obtained.
That was why Paul Dacre of the Daily Mail sent photographers to take photos of my body as a girl every few months without my consent, and published them with any random caption they could find.
Similarly, the Times sent a photographer just to get images of my teenage female body without even any story – just “to build an audience drawn to me” so they could get more profit later on.
The editors saw me as a 12 year old girl, and decided to “build me up” with as many grandiose claims as possible so they could continue to profit from stalking me and publishing my details during my life.
Many women linked to STEM I know have had similar issues, though not on the same scale!
They have lots of random people online targeting them and both building them up … (and then stalking all their work to start dramatic arguments about them?).
When they just want to privately get on with their own lives and friends and don’t even want to be involved in the drama created by others?!!!
If you do have my best interests at heart, please don’t be “part of this problem”, and have some respect for my privacy.
And try talking to people in real life rather than obsessing over “bonding” with women you’ve read about who you don’t know.
I don’t have time and it freaks me out to get obsessive detailed messages from all these random people who seem to want to “latch onto a female they’ve read about who doesn’t have any interest in them” rather than focus on their own lives and problems!
Sufiah Yusof 2021